Learning the Indie Game

Guest post
by A.C. Flory

n00b [also newbie] n. Gaming term for inexperienced players.

After ten years of gaming, I consider myself to be something of a veteran, so heaven help anyone who calls me a n00b! However in the world of self-publishing I have no illusions; I am a n00b. So when Kat Brooks, a.k.a the Blurb Doctor, asked if I would do a guest post, my first thought was ‘Yes!’, closely followed by ‘What have I done?’.

Kat suggested I write about becoming a debut author. But what could a n00b like me possibly write on Indies Unlimited? Talking about my experiences would be like trying to teach my mother to boil eggs… embarrassing for both of us.

So there I was with all these metaphorical eggs, trying to come up with something that wouldn’t taste like low fat omelette. Should I talk about the things I’d done wrong on the way to publishing my book? Or should I just focus on the things I’d done right?

Neither of those options thrilled me. I have made mistakes, but nothing truly awful, or expensive. On the flip side, [sorry!] I haven’t become an over-night success either. More panic.

24 hours later I still had nothing, so in desperation I went to the loo. Now I’m not sure how, and where, other writers get their inspiration, but for me, the loo is the go-to spot. And sure enough an idea came. Why not talk about learning how to learn the Indie game? I’ve been a teacher, and a technical writer. Learning is something I know!

<< deep breath >>

For me, the first step in learning something new is always to listen.

LinkedIn was the first stop on my quest for knowledge about the Indie world, and I spent weeks just lurking and listening. It was there I first heard about Author Solutions, and learned about the underhand way they deal with indie authors. Until then I had assumed any company charging such exorbitant fees must be legit. Duh.

LinkedIn was also the place where I read some very good advice about marketing. It went something like this – ‘Don’t worry about marketing, just create a blog and start making connections to people. Do it before your book is published so you’ll have a platform by the time it comes out’.

I liked the sound of relating to people, but I didn’t have a clue what a ‘platform’ was, apart from the obvious. And this brings me to step 2 – research. Google is a powerful tool, and I use it all the time, but nothing beats personal experience.

Let me give you an example. Before I asked IU’s Laurie Boris to become my editor, I read her novel ‘Drawing Breath’. The writing was so good it almost made me cry, and I knew straight away that Laurie was someone I could work with, and listen to. That was definitely one of the things I got right on this journey.

I’m not sure if this last point is actually a step. To me it feels more like one of those obvious things everyone knows without having to think about it. Nonetheless, even the obvious needs to be stated sometimes – when you can’t solve a problem yourself, reach out and ask for help.

Here on Indies Unlimited you will never have to reach very far before someone meets you half way. Sometimes the cavalry arrives without you even having to ask.

At the beginning of this post I mentioned that Kat Brooks is our very own Blurb Doctor. Well, when I contacted Kat about getting some exposure for my novel Vokhtah, she checked my Amazon page, and very gently told me my blurb could be misconstrued. And then she helped me fix it. Just because she’s generous, and knew I was a n00b.

I’m less of a n00b than I was, and I’ve learned far too much to list everything, however two things really standout. The first is obvious – sharing knowledge never diminishes the giver. The second is less palatable – if you truly want to succeed, you have to give up the fantasies of becoming an overnight success.

Those fantasies just lead to disappointment, and giving up. Lasting success is like a boeuf bourguignon, it takes time, patience, and a quality product. Skimp on any of those three ingredients and you’ll end up with boiled beef.

And now I apologize for all the references to food. I missed lunch and I’m starving.


A.C.Flory is an Australian writer who detoured in teaching and technical writing before finding her niche in science fiction. Her other passions include biology and genetics, foreign languages, opera, video games, four-legged animals and food. Her written work includes user manuals for off the shelf software and a debut science fiction novel titled Vokhtah. You can learn more about A.C.Flory on her blog, and her Amazon.com Author’s Page.

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46 thoughts on “Learning the Indie Game”

  1. Now I’m starving, too. Because writers can’t afford to eat. Great post. This is one of my favourite (classy brit spelling) sentences ever: 24 hours later I still had nothing, so in desperation I went to the loo.

  2. At least I can appear superior because I’ve already read Vokhtah and know how good it is.No, that’s not green with envy you see, I just had a bad crossing on the ferry (not). Now if only I can persuade JD Mader to vacate the loo…………

  3. Excellent post, AC, and I too am very happy to see you here on IU. You make one of the most important points: that often writers “don’t know what they don’t knnow”. That’s why places like Author Solutions exist in the first place: to take advantage of what writers haven’t yet found out.
    You give some really sound advice there, Ac 🙂

    1. Thanks Chris. It’s scary how many wolves there are out there. Just saw a tweet tonight about the Random House SF/F imprint Hydra. I couldn’t help wondering if Hydra isn’t really Author Solutions by another name. Apparently the terms of the contract are horrendous. 🙁

      1. It does not appear that Hydra imprint is Author Solutions by another name but it does seem to be a new way to take advantage of newbie authors who really want to be published by the Big 6 and bypass having an agent or learning how to submit without one. Between Writer’s Beware and John Scalzi the digital only imprints with Random house are probably ones to avoid.

        1. Thanks for that update Tasha. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Random House would stoop to such levels. I’m so glad I have so many cluey people watching my back as an indie.

  4. Thanks for this ac. I wish I had built a “platform” before putting my books out there. I am really only starting now, 16 months after posting my first book on Smashwords. But I have not fallen for any of the traps for the unwary represented by the likes of Author House. I can afford to be patient as I do not have to rely on writing for income. On the other hand it would be nice to have some recognition in my declining years!

    1. I’m in the same boat Frank. I don’t have to buy bread with my sales [just as well!] but I’m a late developer and I’d like to know my books are being /read/ before I reach my dotage. 😀

    1. Thanks Jacqueline. I’m used to posting on my own blog, but somehow writing for someone else is very scary. I’m so glad no-one was shocked by my Aussie humour. 🙂

    1. And it’s so nice to realize that we’re all having the same sort of problems. Um… that didn’t come out quite right. I love knowing I’m not alone!

  5. Excellent post! I am thrilled for you. It’s funny how when we’re hungry it creeps into our writing. HA! Also, thanks for this resource. As a self-publishing, still mostly nOOb myself, I need a better support system. I did receive another great review on Amazon last week, but really don’t have a marketing strategy.

    1. Lovely to see you here Honie. I have learned so much since stumbling across IU. Martin Crosbie, an IU regular, has written a great post about the spamming that seems to be a staple of social media marketing.

      We’re all still struggling to make sense of the marketing aspect of being an indie. :/

  6. Gee – I read this to the end. You must be doing something right! I also took a sentence to post on LinkedIn, with a link to this blog. Thank you – you took me back a fair while, and you also confirmed my opinion of one amazing person: KS Brooks.

  7. It always amazes me how much there will always be to learn, but it’s certainly is a bit easier to shoulder when when a helpful community exists for support. I’ve only been following your blog for a little while, but I think it’s great.

    1. Thank Jeri. I started blogging because it was supposed to be the ‘right’ thing to do. But the only reason I’m still blogging is because I’ve made so many friends, both on the blog, and here. I feel as if I fit, possibly for the first time in my life. I love it.

  8. Great post, A.C. I identify with you easily. My first book isn’t yet published but I’ve discovered that humble listening at the feet of the non-n00bs is essential–for a long time.

    And I concur with the loo solution. Works wonders!

    1. -grin- Thanks Stephen. You’ve come to the right place for both listening and being heard. Being an indie is not easy. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s the easy way out. It’s not. But being indie does feel like setting out on a crusade of sorts. We’re changing history, and the future. 🙂

  9. i missed so much …am so glad i came back.. yay!
    “if you truly want to succeed, you have to give up the fantasies of becoming an overnight success.” i think i need to put this somewhere in my room 🙂

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